The National Assembly convened on 18 February 1937 and its last sitting was held on 17 August 1937. The National Assembly consisted of two chambers that were headed by Jüri Uluots and Mihkel Pung. The National Assembly adopted the new Constitution, which was the basis for the elections of the bicameral 6th Riigikogu in 1938.
As a result of the conflict between the State Elder, the Government of the Republic, the Veterans of the War of Independence and the 5th Riigikogu in 1934, Konstantin Päts, the Prime Minister acting as the State Elder, on 12 March declared the martial law in the whole country. The Union of the Veterans of the Estonian War of Independence was disbanded, political meetings and demonstrations were prohibited. Both the elections of the 6th Riigikogu and the State Elder had been declared for April, but with his decree of 19 March, Konstantin Päts postponed both elections until the end of the martial law (Riigi Teataja 1934, 25, 184). The 5th Riigikogu was never convened after October of that year. Those who opposed the government started to call the situation in the country the silent era or the era of silence.
On 23–25 February 1936, the referendum, which gave the State Elder the authority to convene the bicameral National Assembly, was held. The task of the National Assembly was to make amendments to the existing Constitution or to draft a new Constitution. The structure and the procedure for forming the National Assembly were also provided in the powers given to the State Elder.
In Tallinn and Tartu, respectively 30 percent and 38 percent of eligible voters participated in the elections of the National Assembly because the opposition recommended to boycott the elections because of the silent era.
The 80-member First Chamber of the bicameral National Assembly was formed by general elections, the 40-member Second Chamber consisted of the representatives of corporate chambers and the local governments, and the persons appointed by the State Elder.
The elections of the First camber of the National Assembly were held on 12–14 December 1936.The elections were boycotted because the Government did not allow any political freedoms to the candidates of the opposition. Because of that there were no elections in 50 districts, because the opposition had not put up any candidates. In the remaining 30 districts the voter turnout was very small, for example 30 percent in Tallinn and 38 percent in Tartu.
On 18 February 1937, the first sitting of the National Assembly was held. Jüri Uluots was elected the Speaker of the First Chamber and Mihkel Pung was elected the Speaker of the Second Chamber.
On 28 July 1937, the National Assembly adopted the new Constitution that entered into force on 1 January. In February 1938, the elections of the bicameral 6th Riigikogu were held under the new constitution. The festive final sitting of the National Assembly took place on 17 August 1937.
During its activity, the National Assembly passed the Constitution and seven acts on the implementation of the Constitution, as well as the provisional Rules of Procedure of the Riigikogu. The National Assembly also passed two acts regulating the education system – the Secondary Schools Act Amendment Act and the Vocational Educational Institutions Act.
Southern wing and garden of Toompea Castle, designed by Alar Kotli, in 1937 Photo: Kaido Haagen, Peeter Laurits, Arne Maasik, Peeter Säre
Your feedback is important. Please share it with us!